Tony Stewart to join NHRA as team owner in 2022
NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart is branching out into yet another form of motorsports, fielding two entries in the NHRA next season.
Tony Stewart Racing will field two fulltime entries in 2022 – one in Top Fuel for nine-time event winner Leah Pruett and one in Funny Car for 39-time event winner Matt Hagan.
Stewart, 50, has been a regular at NHRA events since last year when he and Pruett began dating. The couple are now engaged and set to be married in November after the NHRA season finale in Pomona, Calif.
“When I retired from fulltime driving I said it wasn’t the end, but the beginning of a new chapter. This is proof of that,” said Stewart, who also co-owns Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Gene Haas.
“I appreciate all forms of racing and I’ve always been intrigued about drag racing and NHRA, in particular. Back in 2009 when Tony Schumacher and I were both representing the U.S. Army, I got to hang out with him and Don Schumacher at the U.S. Nationals. Tony ended up winning and after taking it all in, I was hooked.
“But it wasn’t until I met Leah and started going to races regularly, where I saw the strategy and the preparation firsthand, that I truly understood it.”
The manufacturer and the team’s technical alliance associate, along with corporate partners, will be announced at a later date.
Tony Stewart Racing was formed in November 2000 and has won 27 owner championships – 14 in USAC, nine in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series, and four in the All Star Circuit of Champions TQ Midgets.
TSR will continue its sprint car program, which is headlined by 10-time WoO champion Donny Schatz. TSR’s NHRA and sprint car entries will operate out of its existing 25,000-square-foot facility in Brownsburg, Ind.
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing
Photo by: Stewart-Haas Racing
“I’m new to the NHRA, but I’m not new to motorsports,” Stewart said. “We have good infrastructure in place and we’re used to building things from the ground up. It makes success that much more rewarding.”
Pruett, 33, is currently in her 25th consecutive season competing in NHRA, which began in the series’ Jr. Drag Racing League as an 8-year-old. She won the 2010 NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Racing Series championship in the Nostalgia Funny Car class and has spent the last eight years advancing her way through Top Fuel.
However, the Redlands, Calif.-native is not confined to NHRA’s top class. She has pulled double duty a number of years by also competing fulltime in the NHRA Factory Stock Showdown, winning the title in 2018 for Don Schumacher Racing (DSR).
“I’m an NHRA lifer and nitro racing is my passion,” Pruett said. “Don Schumacher gave me an incredible chance when we teamed up back in 2016. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s made me a better driver. He helped me take a massive step in my career and this opportunity with TSR affords another big step.”
Hagan, 38, is the three-time and reigning Funny Car champion (2011, 2014 and 2020). He joined DSR in 2009 and currently leads the series point standings with three races remaining.
“Don Schumacher has been a huge chapter in my racing career. We’ve won a whole lot of trophies and multiple championships together over the years, and that’s because of the incredible team he’s placed around me and the opportunities that he’s given us to be successful,” Hagan said.
“This next chapter with Tony Stewart is one I’m excited for. I’m ready to go racing. That’s what I’m here to do. I’m jumping into this new program with two feet and I’m confident in the package we’re bringing into the 2022 season with TSR. Let’s make some history.”
TSR will make its NHRA debut at the 2022 season opener Feb. 17-20 at Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.
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